Crusaders lose All Blacks duo for Super Rugby final
Wellington - The Crusaders have suffered a double blow ahead of Saturday's Super Rugby final against Argentina's Jaguares, with Ryan Crotty and Scott Barrett both suffering injuries that will also end their Rugby Championship hopes.
The Crusaders said veteran centre Crotty suffered a broken thumb in an intense semi-final against the Hurricanes, while fellow All Black Barrett broke his index finger.
They are set to be out for eight and six weeks respectively, meaning they will also miss the Rugby Championship, which begins later this month and ends mid-August.
The injury brings to an end Crotty's 11-year career with the Crusaders as he will head to Japan next season to play with Kubota Spears in the Top League.
The Crusaders are chasing their third straight Super Rugby crown, and 10th overall, while the Jaguares are contesting their first title decider.
Crotty and Barrett will both hope to be fit for the All Blacks' Test against Tonga in Hamilton on September 7, the team's final warm-up before the World Cup in Japan.
Crotty's injury could open a spot in the centres for Ngani Laumape or even Ma'a Nonu in the All Blacks' 41-man Rugby Championship squad to be named later on Tuesday.
Patrick Tuipulotu or Jackson Hemopo are possibilities to replace Barrett as lock behind All Blacks coach Steve Hansen's preferred pairing of Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock.